Sheffield United: 'Brilliant' Jack O'Connell is thanked by Jayden Bogle after Blackpool win

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Jayden Bogle has paid tribute to Sheffield United team mate Jack O’Connell for helping him through one of the most difficult periods of his career.

After enduring an injury-hit year, undergoing surgery to cure a knee complaint before suffering complications following comeback, Bogle impressed on his first outing since the beginning of October during last night’s win over Blackpool.

O’Connell has endured an even more torrid time of things, last making an appearance for United 27 months ago when it emerged he also required an operation to cure what was described at the time as a long-standing issue. As he continues to try and plot a comeback, O’Connell has been tasked with overseeing many of the gym sessions United’s players undergo in order to maintain their fitness.

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Speaking after a result which saw Paul Heckingbottom’s side establish an 11 point lead over the Championship’s third-placed club, Blackburn Rovers, Bogle told The Star the advice the centre-half offered him during those work-outs at the Randox Health Academy proved to be a huge source of encouragement.

“Even when I was feeling a bit down, when things were quite difficult, Jack was always there telling me ‘Come on, you can do this. If you do these things then you’ll get back out there much quicker,” Bogle explained. “He’s been brilliant with me and all of the rest of the lads as well. Unfortunately for him, he understands what we’re going through and how it can play on your mind when you’re not involved. I can’t thank him and the rest of the people who helped me enough. All of the rest of the boys were really good with me as well, making sure I was feeling okay.”

Bogle’s return to action, coupled with the sight of fellow defenders Max Lowe and Jack Robinson and midfielder Sander Berge also recovering from fitness issues, has provided left Heckingbottom with a wealth of options at his disposal ahead of Monday’s visit to Queens Park Rangers.

Despite taking part in only three games since mid-February, Bogle excelled at Bloomfield Road and nearly capped his performance with a goal during the first-half. Efforts from Berge and James McAtee, on loan from Manchester City, saw United dispatch Michael Appleton’s side although Marvin Ekpiteta later pulled one back for the hosts.

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“Sometimes people don’t understand how difficult it is when you’re out,” Bogle said. “I’ve tried to stay around the lads as much as possible and come to the games. The thing is, though, you just want to contribute and help them out and you feel as if you can’t do that if you’re injured.

Sheffield United's Jayden Bogle during Sheffield United's game against QPR earlier this season: George Wood/Getty ImagesSheffield United's Jayden Bogle during Sheffield United's game against QPR earlier this season: George Wood/Getty Images
Sheffield United's Jayden Bogle during Sheffield United's game against QPR earlier this season: George Wood/Getty Images

“My family and friends have been a great help too. Because there were times when it was really tough.”

United travel to west London having won all of their last five matches. Rangers will enter the contest on the back of a defeat by Luton Town, although Bogle expects them to pose another stern test of United’s promotion credentials.

“We’ve got a really good blend of youth and experience, lads who can create something out of nothing and everyone is ready to work hard,” he said. “But you can’t look beyond your next game in this division. We’re just thinning about QPR, nothing else.”